How to budget for your college textbooks

There are many options for renting, buying, or digitally owning your textbooks. Check our guide to see which best fits your needs.

…

According to College Board, books and supplies at a four-year college cost approximately $1,250 each year, which makes it worthwhile to consider your options in obtaining your textbooks.

First, consider the pros and cons between buying, renting, or going digital — we’ve broken them down in the table below. Then, take a look at three common college textbooks and how their costs compare when you’re buying vs. renting, and opting for used, new, or digital.

Pros Cons
Renting Lower costs Must pay for book if lost
Can return when finished Must return by a specific date to avoid fees
Buying Keep and use as resource throughout college Book value will depreciate
Can sell book when finished with it Typically higher costs
Digital Accessible on multiple devices Must have electronic device to access (plus chargers)
Lower costs Some professors do not allow electronics in class
Lightweight in backpack Cannot highlight and mark up book for notes/ references

 

The Art of Public Speaking by Stephen Lucas (12th Edition)

Buy digital $130
Rent digital $68
Buy new (hardcover) $312
Buy used (hardcover) n/a
Rent (hardcover) n/a
Buy new (paperback) $98 – $152
Buy used (paperback) $65 – $103
Rent (paperback) $37 – $47

 

Chemistry: The Central Science by Theodore E. Brown and H. Eugene LeMay (13th Edition)

Buy digital $180
Rent digital $59
Buy new (hardcover) $89 – $240
Buy used (hardcover) $75 – $132
Rent (hardcover) $18 – $60
Buy new (paperback) n/a
Buy used (paperback) $53
Rent (paperback) n/a

 

Social Psychology by David Myers (11th Edition)

Buy digital $183
Rent digital $103
Buy new (hardcover) $95 – $213
Buy used (hardcover) $77 – $117
Rent (hardcover) $53
Buy new (paperback) n/a
Buy used (paperback) n/a
Rent (paperback) n/a

Note: Prices were pulled from Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble in March 2017.